Note from BW of Brazil: Today, we wish to share a statement from a northeastern black women’s group known as Preta Simoa. On their blog, Preta Simoa describes itself as “Grupo de Mulheres Negras do Cariri. Somos mulheres negras empoderadas, atuantes e ativistas na região do Cariri, interior do Ceará”, meaning “a group of Black Women from Cariri. We are powerful, active and activist black women from the region of Cariri, on the interior of Ceará.” Ceará is a popular tourist destination located in Brazil’s northeast.
Although their message was created specifically for the Carnaval season that has since already passed, it remains relevant for several reasons. 1) Regardless of the time of year, the image of Brazil outside of the country is often associated with Carnaval. 2) The international spotlight will be upon Brazil for the World Cup in a little more than two months and will continue until at least 2016 when the Olympics, also to be hosted in Brazil, are scheduled to begin. 3) Brazil attracts a large number of foreigners who come to the country in search of sexual tourism. 4) The image associated with Afro-Brazilian women continues to be of domestic and sexual services.
BW of Brazil wishes to give a special note of recognition to these women who are putting forward the effort, courage and attitude of making such statements in a state where the development of black identity is such a challenge. Preta Simoa joins the ranks of many black Brazilian women (see related articles below) who reject not only hyper-sexualization of the image of their bodies but also the sexualized usage of the term “mulata” that is automatically attached to any attractive woman of visible African ancestry or Carnaval dancer. As a side note, the above photo and message can also be taken as directly influenced by and directed at a controversial photo divulged in social networks by actress Sheron Menezes.
From the slave quarters to the post card: My flesh is not of your Carnaval
by Preta Simoa
Currently a specific fact has caused great controversy regarding the contribution of the Brazilian media for the maintenance and enhancement of the eroticization of black women, which was the contest for the election of Globeleza, which starts the “hunt for mulatas” to represent the commercial of one of the biggest parties of the country, Carnival. This is the only time where the beauty of black of the black woman, reduced to her lower back region, earns time on television to announce the good, bundudo (big-bootied) and cheap product, offered for the entertainment of foreign revelers who drive the tourism economy of the country. In the rest of the year, we know the space that the Brazilian television reserves for us: the kitchen or imprisonment.
We, black women struggle with books, tooth and nail, trying to write our history beyond the sexual relationship with the master, seeking to overcome the title of “vadia (slut)” that they tattooed on the skin and that presents us as a legitimizing object of attenuated slavery.
We live daily with various types of violence associated with this commoditized image of our body, sponsored and propagated by the Brazilian media. This violence is of a moral order, as it slanders us and hurts our honor and reputation; it’s physical in jeopardizing the integrity of our body as we are seen as “available”; and also psychological, as it implies directly the perception that we have of ourselves and interfere with our affectionate and sexual behavior that sustains this cruel hyper-sexualized identity in which we are seen and often ends up implicated in the reflection that we see in the mirror.
Remove your labels from my black body!
White sign, far left: “I am a black woman and I am not yours!”
Red sign: “My blackness you don’t touch and my flesh you don’t have!”
Green sign: “Don’t call me mulata. I am a black woman, period! I don’t want your love (1). I am not your sexual object.”
Yellow sign (back): “I am black in color, in my soul, in my heart; this doesn’t mean I am at your disposition!”
White sign: “My body belongs to me!”
Yellow sign (bottom): “I am a black woman, yes, and my body is not an object of your sexual satisfaction.”
White sign (bottom center): “My hair doesn’t deny (my origin), it affirms it!”
White sign (bottom left): “Because to stop being a racist, my love, is not to fuck a mulata.”
Source: Preta Simoa
1. Refers to the popular Carnaval song “O teu cabelo não nega” in which the lyrics say: Porque és mulata na cor. Mas como a cor não pega mulata. Mulata eu quero o teu amor (Because you are mulata in color. But since I can’t catch your color. Mulata I want your love).